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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 21 March, 2019

Kearney returns to captain Leinster as Cullen rotates for visit of Ulster

The eastern province make 14 changes for Saturday’s Pro14 inter-pro at the RDS.

ROB KEARNEY AND Jack McGrath have returned to fitness to boost Leinster for Saturday’s Guinness Pro14 inter-pro against Ulster at the RDS, as Leo Cullen rotates his resources ahead of the final two rounds of European action.

Kearney has recovered from the dead leg that has sidelined him since the victory over Bath at the Rec last month to start and captain the eastern province for the round 13 encounter [KO 5.15pm, eir Sport/Premier Sports]. 

Rob Kearney Kearney is back from injury. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

McGrath, meanwhile, is back to full fitness following hip surgery and comes into Cullen’s starting XV as one of 14 changes in personnel from last weekend’s defeat to Munster at Thomond Park. 

The only player retained from last Saturday is Noel Reid as Cullen carefully manages his options with one eye on the visit of Toulouse to Dublin next week, with many of Leinster’s frontline internationals given the weekend off.

It means there are further starting opportunities for Conor O’Brien, Adam Byrne and Ciaran Frawley in the backline, while Barry Daly comes in for his first appearance since the season-opening win at Cardiff Blues after a knee injury.

In the pack, there is a welcome return for McGrath as he partners Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter in the front row, with Ross Molony and Mick Kearney starting in the second row.

There is a youthful look to the back row unit as Josh Murphy, Scott Penny and Max Deegan are handed starts for the visit of the northern province, as Leinster bid to get back to winning ways.

On the bench, there is a potential debut for Lansdowne’s Oisín Dowling in the second row.

21-year-old Dowling, an Ireland U20 international, is in his second year in the Leinster academy, while the likes of James Tracy, Ed Byrne, Caelan Doris and Ross Byrne are also held in reserve.

Despite their first Pro14 defeat in nine outings in Limerick, Leinster’s lead at the top of Conference B is 16 points, and victory on Saturday would further consolidate their commanding lead over second-placed Ulster. 

All 18,300 tickets for the game have now been sold.


15. Rob Kearney (captain)
14. Adam Byrne 
13. Conor O’Brien
12. Noel Reid
11. Barry Daly
10. Ciaran Frawley
9. Jamison Gibson-Park

1. Jack McGrath
2. Sean Cronin
3. Andrew Porter
4. Ross Molony
5. Mick Kearney
6. Josh Murphy
7. Scott Penny
8. Max Deegan 


16. James Tracy
17. Ed Byrne 
18. Michael Bent
19. Oisin Dowling
20. Caelan Doris
21. Hugh O’Sullivan
22. Ross Byrne
23. Jimmy O’Brien. 

Source: Heineken Rugby Weekly on The42/SoundCloud

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Ryan Bailey

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